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September 23, 2014

Jesse Della Valle

Q.  What have you felt like or how would you evaluate the punt returning so far through the first four weeks of the season?  What kind of things do you feel like you need to do better and improve upon going forward?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  I haven't been able to return quite as many punts as I would have liked, but at the same time I don't want to put the team in a position where I'm fielding punts that I shouldn't be or I'm trying to return punts that I shouldn't be, so been fair catching a lot of balls, which like I said, I'd like to return more.  But that's something that I've got to work on, too.
The previous years that I've returned punts, we've had two returners back, so this year being the only returner back, it's a little bit to get used to and something that I'll continue to work on.

Q.  Curious when the ball is in the air, do you hear the crowd?  How much concentration does it take to catch a punt like that?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  Yeah, punt returning for me is a lot about concentration, really.  That's the main thing is catching the ball first.  I definitely try to concentrate and get plenty of reps in practice so I'm comfortable back there.  But as far as crowd noise and things like that, I'm not really concentrating on that.  I'm more or less worried about where the pressure is coming from, how close the guys are getting to me, and whether I should fair catch it or return it.

Q.  You guys are 4‑0 obviously but haven't played perfect football yet.  How confident of a 4‑0 team are you right now?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  Yeah, we know we've just got to keep preparing and we have a lot of work to do, so we're getting into the heart of the Big Ten schedule, so it's going to be important for us to prepare like we always do and continue to get better.

Q.  You mentioned having one guy back there instead of two or vice versa.  What are the benefits to having just one guy, and what are the benefits to having two guys back there, and does one work better than the other in your mind?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  I don't think one scheme is necessarily better than the other.  Having one guy back obviously allows you to have another guy up front if you want to go for a block or something like that, whereas what we did in the past with two returners, you don't have to cover as much ground as a returner and you kind of know that that other off returner is going to pick up the first guy.
For me it's just kind of an adjustment of detecting where that first pressure is going to come from, knowing that I don't have that off returner to pick up the first guy.

Q.  What are the little nuances, adjustments you have to make from catching the ball during the day to catching it at night when you have the stadium lights and a black sky?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  Yeah, every stadium is different.  I go out pretty early before the game and catch a lot of balls to kind of get a feel for it, get a feel for the lights and things like that.  It's kind of different from stadium to stadium, but it's not too much different, not too much to get used to.

Q.  Last year in the secondary there seemed to be a lot of busted coverages.  This year a couple of the guys said the communication is better.  Is that more a product of the scheme with Coach Shoop or is that more just everyone getting good communication down between themselves and in meetings and stuff like that?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  Yeah, I know with Coach Shoop communication is a huge focal point, so it's something that we definitely work on throughout the week and come Saturday it's something that's really important for us to be able to communicate different calls across the secondary and really to the whole defense to make sure we're on the same page.  I'd say it's definitely something that's been really important and really stressed with Coach Shoop.

Q.  A couple weeks ago Brent Pry was on a teleconference talking about the grading system, from a zero, one and two scale.  I was wondering is that across the board for defensive backs and special teams, as well?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  I haven't had much of an encounter with that, so I think that's kind of just like what they do.

Q.  Just for linebackers?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  I mean, I don't know from position to position, but maybe just that's how the coaching staff evaluates it.  I really don't know too much about that.

Q.  As a follow‑up, how do the coaches evaluate your punt returns individually?  Do they break them up?  For example, Herb Hand just tweeted out a bunch of individual clips of offensive linemen blocking.  Do they do that similar to each punt return of yours?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  I don't think any of my punt returns have been tweeted out.  I'm not really sure of that.  I haven't really checked.
Yeah, we really just come in and watch the special teams film after each game, so it's always going to be evaluated, it's always something that I know I can be better at and the coaches are helping me with, so as a unit we watch it, as a punt return unit, and try to get better each week.

Q.  Coach Franklin and Coach Huff have done a lot of things to distract Sam and Chris when they're kicking and punting.  Have they done anything to distract the punt returners in practice and what's the weirdest thing you've had to deal with in practice?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  We practice catching balls with like holding two other balls, so it's kind of just like trapping it in there to kind of focus on catching it in a perfect spot.  It's much harder, obviously, than catching it without the balls in your hand, but it's good training and helps me out.

Q.  When you're talking about having too many fairway catches, is there a timetable for you when the ball is in the air to calling a fair catch, and what's the process like for you?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  Yeah, there is a timetable.  If I feel like it's hanging up there a lot, I know if it's shorter I'm probably going to have to fair catch it, but like I said, it's something I'm working on being the only returner back there.  Yeah, you kind of get a feel for where your pressure is coming from or if it's a low kick, if it's a high kick.  Definitely something I'll be working on and trying to keep returning more punts and things like that.

Q.  What's it like to have a special teams coordinator this year with Charles Huff and Josh Gattis?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  Yeah, those guys have been absolutely great.  They do a great job with focusing on all the aspects of special teams, and as the season goes on, I think that's something that's going to be really important for us is just that we keep getting better on special teams, and those guys are really helping us out.

Q.  You said before that you kind of zone everything out and you're not focusing on the crowd, but the pressure, where it's coming from, and the ball in the air.  What's the ratio, though, when you're back there to looking at the ball, looking at the pressure?  And then maybe what goes into your decision?  We've seen you maybe fluff a few catches a few times and let the ball land around the goal line.  What goes into that decision?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  Yeah, I try not to really field anything too deep inside the 10‑yard line just because it wouldn't be smart of me to do that.  A lot of my‑‑ mainly all my punt returns come from just making smart decisions, and that's what I have to do is decide if a fair catch is the best decision, if a return is the best decision.  For me to catch every ball and try to return every ball is not a smart decision for the football team, so that's why I've made fair caught so many balls that I have is because I've felt personally that it would be best for the team that I retain that field position and just fair catch the ball and get it to our offense, get it to hack and those guys.

Q.  Do you find yourself having to fight that balance because against Rutgers you came charging up there in traffic after you had made a few fair catches on the previous ones?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  Yeah, like I said before, it's kind of just a feel.  Each punt is different, and you really never know what's going to happen, whether it be we're going tore a block or it's punt safe or something like that.  Each punt is kind of a different feel.

Q.  And also when there were two guys back there did the other guy help make the call or was he yelling to fair catch it?
JESSE DELLA VALLE:  No, not at all.  It was just the off returner, the other returner, would kind of pick up the first color of the opposing team, so kind of gave us a little bit more room as a returner.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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